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Disney World starts opening this weekend.

Let’s see how quickly this goes from Magic Kingdom to Tragic Kingdom.

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The doors to Disney will be back open soon. Two theme parks, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom, are set to reopen Saturday for the first time since coronavirus-related closures in March. The resort’s two other theme parks, Epcot and Hollywood Studios, are opening four days later.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was asked Monday during a news conference in The Villages, one of Florida’s largest retirement communities, about the safety of reopening theme parks amid the spike in cases in the Sunshine State.

DeSantis said he was not concerned about the increasing positivity rate in Florida and theme parks welcoming guests again.

“Disney, I have no doubt is going to be a safe environment…”

(cont. CBS Miami)

Ron Pissbaby DeSantis said Disney is going to be a safe environment.

how how how

One. DeSantis wants to be Trump.

Gov. Ron DeSantis is a Trump acolyte who sees himself as a mini-Cheetolini in training. Our Dear Leader downplays coronavirus, so DeSantis downplays coronavirus. President Velveeta cuts funding for coronavirus relief, so Governor Pissbaby cuts funding for coronavirus relief.  They’re both liars and they both lie to their supporters about the rapidly unfolding disaster we have on our hands.

[DeSantis]has wiped out funding for coronavirus treatment in prisons and for online learning services, while insisting schools will reopen in the fall. And he is downplaying the spike in cases in his state, saying that those contracting the virus are younger.

“There’s no need to be fearful,” DeSantis said Monday.

(cont. CNN)

Two. Every metric in Florida is getting worse.

A record high percentage of Floridians tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday.

percent-positivity-fdoh

In NYC, the percentage is hovering around 1% and we can’t even sit in McDonald’s and eat chicken nuggets. Florida is opening Disney and 16% of their tests come back positive. Where in that number does it look safe to open theme parks?

Three. Even Texas has a more sensible response.

Texas and Florida, as the most populous states under Republican governorship, are frequently in a race to see who can be the absolute worst. Florida is definitely winning this race currently. While DeSantis has decided to open Disney and cut funding for online courses because he wants to send kids back to Corona Classrooms in September, Texas’s governor at least has the common sense to admit that COVID-19 is a problem and we’re stuck with it for a very long time.

In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott — who had previously blocked local governments from requiring masks, and had been among the first to reopen businesses — last week reversed himself and issued a mandate requiring masks in most of the state. The move came after he’d shut down all bars, limited restaurants to 50% capacity and halted elective surgeries in coronavirus hot-spots. In a video, he acknowledged what he said was “a stark reality: Covid-19 is not going away. In fact, it’s getting worse.”

(cont. CNN)

Four. The people who are going to Disney are not going to be careful.

I’m sitting here aghast at the thought of thousands of strangers wandering around a theme park. I would never go, because I take this pandemic seriously. There will be nobody like me there, social distancing, washing my hands constantly, wearing a mask everywhere, and shaming anybody I see being lax.

The people who will be there either think this is a hoax or think it’s not as bad as (some) government officials make it out to be. Disney can say as often as anyone will listen that they will have temperature checks and mask requirements, but Costco has mask requirements and their customers in Florida just about pop a vein when you tell them to put it on.

I don’t wanna say you deserve what you get if you go to Disney during a pandemic, because children don’t have a choice and they’re beholden to the idiocy of their parents. But it’s going to be really hard to have sympathy for people who end up on a respirator because they decided some mouse ears and an overpriced funnel cake were worth risking a virus that is quite literally running rampant in the area.

Maybe they think the Kingdom really is Magic but from where I’m sitting…

tragic kingdom

 

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economy

Joe Manchin doesn’t want to give money to people who need money.

Conservatives are so intent on giving money to people who already have it.

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When you’re rich, you see money as a reward as opposed to a necessity to live. Joe Manchin is worth over seven million dollars so he has no frame of reference for what a $300 credit is to someone with a child. To him, $300 is pocket change you get as a thank you, not the difference between cooking healthy meals or going to McDonald’s.

Millions of children are set to be lifted out of poverty this year because the Democrats temporarily beefed up the child tax credit in the last coronavirus relief package.

Extending the enhanced credit is included in Democrats’ massive social spending bill. But Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia — whose support is needed to pass the legislation — has said he wants to once again require parents to work in order to qualify for the credit, a shift that could exclude millions of the nation’s poorest families.

(cont. CNN)

The impact this would have on children isn’t up for debate. The monthly payments that started in July have kept 3.5 million children out of poverty. Child poverty is expected to be cut in half by the end of the year and low income families with children have seen a 25% decrease in food instability. (x)

But a credit for parents isn’t just about being able to buy food for your children. Almost half of the recipients used some of the money to buy groceries, but others paid bills, which also allows you to provide food for your family.

Poor people know that any money coming from anywhere that goes to anything helps you put better food on the table. If you work two jobs to make ends meet, you don’t always have time to cook. You go to McDonald’s on the way home because that’s the only way you can feed your family. Cutting one job down to two, or even cutting some hours from your second job, gives you more time to feed your family with better food.

Poor people who live or have lived in food deserts also know what that extra money can mean to your family. I’ve lived in a food desert in Bed-Stuy and in Harlem. I’m young, able-bodied, and childless. If I have to walk half a mile to the nearest grocery store with fresh vegetables, I’m able to do that. There are so many low income families who do not have that option. Extra money means a used car so you can get to a grocery store or even just a Lyft once a week so you can stock your refrigerator.

Money gives you options and choices. It gives you ways to be a better parent and provider. So what’s the problem? How could you possibly have an argument against helping parents be better parents?

Once again, rich people are concerned that poor people will get something they didn’t work for. Let’s be clear about Joe Manchin: he did not work for $7 million. He’s been an elected official for the past 40 years. That is his job and you do not amass $7 million on the salary of a public servant. He founded a coal brokerage firm and gave it to his son, but the company still pays him dividends as he stops clean energy bills from passing. That’s where Joe Manchin gets his money, from coal trading that he doesn’t even do. He has $7 million dollars from not working.

So it is absolutely enraging that a rich person who does not work wants to keep $300 from reaching parents who desperately need it because some of them may take it as an incentive to not work, or to work less. To that I say: so what if they don’t work? If $300 a month is enough money to keep you out of the job market, then the job you were doing was grossly underpaying you in the first place. It was probably demeaning work for pennies, and if you can save a bit of your self worth thanks to the federal government, that is a good thing. That is a happier American citizen. That is a better parent raising the next generation.

But that’s just giving Manchin’s position a level of truth it doesn’t deserve anyway. Of the people who have received child credits, only 5% of them decided to work less. Joe Manchin, like so many other Conservatives, will screw the majority just to make sure a minority isn’t “getting one over” on him. Instead, his rationale is to give a credit to people who already have jobs. Joe Manchin, like every other Conservative, wants to give money to people who already have money because, in America, having money means you are morally better than someone who does not have money. It all goes back to the foundation of American Christian Prosperity Gospel Capitalism: rich people are rich because they are good people who deserve it and poor people are poor because of their own moral failures. You can extrapolate that principle out to a host of social policies Conservatives refuse to support.

And if you can get rich by doing absolutely no work at all, kindly forget that you did nothing. Just pretend you worked super hard and the Money Jesus smiled upon all of your endeavors.

 

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Health

Test your drugs for fentanyl.

The illegal drug supply is becoming less reliable and more contaminated.

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When I was in college hanging out in dive bars and chugging PBR while a steady stream of local bands competed to be the next Interpol, cocaine was everywhere. If you had told 7-year-old me in DARE how much recreational coke I would do before I turned 25, I would have been horrified. When I moved to NYC, it was easier to find a bump than a cigarette. In Williamsburg on somebody’s rooftop pregaming before a night out. On New Year’s Eve with some finance bro at a swanky hotel party. In the East Village listening to a band play. In Hell’s Kitchen on the dancefloor where no one has yet offered you coke, but your lips are tingly after making out with a stranger, so you ask and receive. In all of my years partying until the sun came up, I never once bought cocaine. I simply trusted the coke of whoever was offering, because they’re obviously not dead, so it must be fine.

I would never accept coke from a stranger now. And I wouldn’t even do coke I’d bought myself without testing it for fentanyl first.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid created in the 1960s that is used in hospital and medical settings primarily for anesthesia because it works fast and it only takes a little. Outside of those environments, fentanyl is prescribed for severe pain as a last resort measure. You climb the mountain of painkillers, and if none of them work, you finally hit fentanyl at the top. It’s 100 times stronger than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin, and for many people, it’s the only drug that keeps them from committing suicide. This summer I was listening to Very Uplifting Podcasts about Enron and global warming and addiction, and Painkiller produced by Vice has a lot of interview subjects discussing their experience with Fentanyl. There’s a wide spectrum of the population, from fentanyl dealers to loved ones of overdose victims to addicts to patients who have been prescribed fentanyl for extreme pain. Listening to people who have struggled with chronic pain reach the end of their rope on the brink of suicide only to be pulled back after a fentanyl prescription is very enlightening for those of us who only hear the drug in association with illegal usage and overdoses. Those overdoses have now made it more difficult for legal users to obtain the drug, since the government is cracking down and making it harder for medical care providers to write new prescriptions. These people who wanted to die before fentanyl then realized they could live with fentanyl now want to die again.

So why are so many people suddenly overdosing on fentanyl? Well, the most basic answer is potency. Look at a lethal dosage of heroin next to fentanyl (next to carfentanil, another synthetic opioid on deck to become a widespread problem).

Buzzfeed has an in-depth article about the rise of illegal fentanyl usage in the United States, and I’ve read various works about where it comes from and who makes it and how addictive it is, but there isn’t enough focus on accidental contamination.

If I’m a heroin dealer and I want to make more money, I may mix a little heroin with quinine and milk sugar. I just stretched my heroin supply, but I also made a crap product. My users won’t get high the way they used to and they won’t buy from me anymore…unless I cut it with a little fentanyl. They’ll get the high they expect (or better!) and I increased my profit margin. They may become hooked on fentanyl and I don’t have to sell them heroin at all. That’s intentional. A heroin user who tries fentanyl is less likely to overdose than someone who has no experience with opioids.

If I’m a cocaine dealer, there is no reason for me to intentionally cut my product with fentanyl. The highs are different, so I’m not using it to recreate the feeling of a product I’ve watered down with junk for a higher profit margin. I’m likely to kill my customers, which is terrible for business. If there is fentanyl in the cocaine that I’m selling, it’s because it accidentally got there through cross-contamination. (There are cocaine users who intentionally lace with fentanyl, similar to a cocaine-heroin speedball, but that kind of overdose is what we typically think of when someone overdoses on a drug — they meant to use it, they just used too much.)

For some reason, people are very protective over their drug dealers. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard friends and acquaintances say “Oh my guy gets the best stuff…” or “Oh I buy from him all the time, I know it’s good…” We love brand loyalty in this country. I use Tide on my clothes mostly because my mama used Tide, so that’s just the laundry detergent I know. If you buy cocaine from the same guy all the time, I love that for y’all’s relationship. However, your dealer is the last person in a chain of people that stretches to South America.

Unless your dealer physically picked the coca leaves and performed the multi-cycle processes of dissolving and extracting with lime water, kerosene, and sulfuric acid in big metal drums, he is not 100% certain what’s in it. And making cocaine in the jungle is not an FDA approved process where people are wearing gloves and wiping tables and cleaning out containers. Fentanyl has exploded onto the market over the past five years and every supplier wants a piece. If your dealer gets your cocaine from a place that is now making fentanyl, he doesn’t know if the cocaine and fentanyl were packaged on the same table. He doesn’t know if bags were reused. You don’t know either until you get the first baggie of contaminated coke and your next line is your last.

If you take away nothing else about fentanyl take away this: You do not know if your regular supply will contaminated. You do not know if the bump you take in a bar from a friendly stranger is contaminated.

Cocaine has been my example because that was my party drug of choice, but recreational users across the board are dying from fentanyl. Snapchat is currently running from litigation because teenagers keep buying pills (typically Oxy) on their platform, and they’re dying from fentanyl.

Nobody stops doing party drugs because of something they read on the internet, but you can try to be safer and encourage those around you to be safer as well. If you are a regular partier, test your drugs with fentanyl strips. If you are regularly around people who party, learn how to use naloxone and carry it with you to stop an overdose and save a life.

There are many places to get both for free and the most popular in NY (or at least the one that I see the most) is endoverdose.net. You register, fill out an anonymous survey, and order what you need.

I don’t have anything to say about the War on Drugs. Addiction is complicated and should be treated as a public health crisis instead of crime and punishment. If we lived in a society that made space to talk about drug addictions openly and rationally, we would be able to talk about recreational drug usage. DARE would have us believe that every line of coke is another cobblestone on the road to destruction and embarrassing your family, but we know better. Illegal drugs exist right alongside alcohol and the fact that we can’t talk about it means we can’t regulate it. Lack of regulation means opportunity for intentional malfeasance and unintentional contamination. The only solution to accidental fentanyl overdoses that the law and the government will suggest is to simply Stop Doing Drugs. Humans have been doing drugs for all of recorded history, so take care of each other and use your best judgement. There is no reason to accidentally die from something you could easily test for free.

 

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Vote or Don’t Vote for Charles Graham…but know why.

A good ad does not a good candidate make.

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Earlier this week, NC State Rep. Charles Graham announced his run for the US House of Representatives, hoping to unseat Republican incumbent Dan Bishop in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. And he came in guns blazing with this campaign ad featuring the KKK…

I’ve never seen a campaign ad for a Congressional race go viral on social media so quickly, but less than a day after it was released, it was all over Twitter. I reposted it too. And then I found out Charles Graham was the only Democrat in the NC House to vote in favor of NC’s HB-2, the state’s infamous transgender bathroom bill.

Back in 2017, Republican state lawmakers wrote a bill that required people to use the public restroom in accordance with the gender they were assigned at birth. Republicans cited their false intention to protect women and children from predators (a thoroughly debunked premise that I don’t need to spend time on), and Charles Graham was the only Democrat to vote in favor of it.

I deleted my Retweet immediately.

Later, I did more reading, and Charles Graham had issued an apology for his vote, and as far as political backtracking goes, this is one of the more sincere and believable ones I’ve come across.

————————————————————–

Text of the above screengrab from Charles Graham’s website reads:

I believe human dignity is a human right. It’s a value I hold dear – but five years ago I failed to uphold my own value when I voted for HB2, and it was a mistake. It was a bill written and voted on within 24 hours, with the conversation surrounding protecting children and women, but I should have done more research to completely understand the impact of the bill. After the hurried vote, I spent the following days talking with colleagues and transgender-rights activists about the impacts of the bill – I became a full supporter of recalling the bill and worked across the aisle to fully repeal it. To the LGBTQ+ community, and specifically to the transgender community who suffered real pain from this bill and the rhetoric that surrounded it, I am sorry.

I have always tried to do what is right, but I am not perfect. I’m running for Congress to stand up against hatred and ignorance, and I expect to be held accountable when I fail to live up to my own principles.

————————————————————–

I believe him. That said, you don’t have to. There are people making the case that if he were truly apologetic, he would have released this apology at any point between 2017 and now, that if he were truly in favor of trans rights, he wouldn’t have waited until his campaign ad went viral and his voting record on the issue was called into question. I don’t disagree, however, he admitted that he didn’t really have a full grasp of the issue when he voted, and once he had a greater understanding, he worked to repeal the bill. That to me is more than just lip-service — that’s action to undue something you did.

So. I decided to post his ad again, but I took a beat. I’d already made the mistake of supporting a candidate (from afar) based on one campaign ad without really looking into his record or what he supports, so I did my due diligence and it’s not great.

NC-9 has been very dramatic these past few years. In 2016, a US District Court ruled the gerrymandering in North Carolina was so heavily and obviously prejudiced toward Republican candidates, the state had to redraw the lines. Before 2016, NC-9 looked like this.

Democrats still argue that the partisan lean toward Republicans continues to be out of sync with the actual population of the state so they’re looking to have the lines drawn even more equitably, but for now, this is NC-9.

Before the lines were redrawn, incumbent Robert Pittinger won that slivery snake of a district with 94% of the vote. He lost his primary bid in the election following the restructuring of his district and Reverend Mark Harris won the Republican nomination. His Democratic opponent, Dan McCready, is a successful businessman with a solar clean energy fund called Double Time Capital. Far from the forgone conclusion of the 94% win by Pittinger, the race between Harris and McCready went down to the wire (I wonder why…) and Harris came out on top with roughly 900 more votes than McCready.

However! (Drama!) The bi-partisan state election board declined to certify the results because campaign operatives for Harris committed fraud on multiple occasions (which included tricking elderly Black voters in rural areas into filling out absentee ballots for Harris). The election was voided and Dan Harris was not the Republican nominee the second time around. State Senator Dan Bishop won the Republican primary and went on to defeat McCready by two percentage points. In the last cycle, Bishop won re-election by a larger margin against Cynthia Wallace, the first Black chairperson of NC-9’s Democratic Party, in a lackluster race that didn’t garner much attention.

This backstory is necessary to understand why the Democratic Party should put its weight behind someone other than Charles Graham. Charles Graham is a Conservative. He’s absolutely the kind of person/politician who is aligned with the Democratic Party not because he agrees with most of the platform but because he disagrees with the other side, and that’s an important distinction. Because we have a two party system, we have a lot of people who belong to to the Democratic Party by default, not by choice. If you’re a politician who hates Donald Trump and supports funding for education, you’re not allowed a voice in the Republican Party. Even if you take issue with some of the Democratic platform, you’re still allowed a place in our Big Tent, and that’s who Charles Graham is.

…critics began pointing out Graham’s more conservative voting record in the General Assembly, including his support for some abortion restrictions, in favor of allowing firearms on school grounds, and opposing a statewide mask mandate — all votes largely in keeping with the prevailing sentiment in his conservative district, which has begun trending more Republican as rural voters sour on Democrats due to culture-war issues.

(cont. MetroWeekly)

Firearms on school grounds and abortion restrictions and no mask mandates are the positions of a Republican. We don’t need another “Democrat” of this kind in Congress, so reflect back on the recent history of NC-9. If this were the snakelike sliver of the past where 94% of the vote went to a Republican and we suddenly had a chance to flip the seat, it might make more sense to focus on a Conservative Democrat. In a district where one Republican had to cheat to win, and still only won by a few hundred votes, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat. In that same district where the the election was voided and the next Republican won by 2% partly because of his alignment with Donald Trump, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat.  In that same district where Donald Trump won the state for reelection and a Black woman still managed to grab 45% of the vote, you don’t need to run a Conservative Democrat. A clean energy businessman narrowly lost while Trump was in office and a Black woman grabbed a huge share while Trump was winning the electoral votes. You can run the same kind of candidates against that Trump-supporter again and win if you mobilize the people to vote.

Look at this way: People who voted for Republican Dan Bishop because they like Dan Bishop are going to vote for Dan Bishop again. They are not going to suddenly vote for a slightly more liberal version of Dan Bishop just because that version has a good backstory about fighting the KKK and taught special ed. Your goal is to grab the people who don’t like Dan Bishop, so why would you run Dan Bishop-lite? Run an actual alternative who can grab the people who didn’t vote for him while also catching the attention of the people who didn’t vote at all. Nobody who voted for Dan McCready a few years ago or Cynthia Wallace last year is suddenly itching to vote for a Democrat In Name Only. Charles Graham caught a couple of headlines with a good campaign ad, but that’s about as much attention as he deserves from national politics going forward. Save your donations for his primary opponents.

(Sidenote: I do believe Charles Graham evolved quickly on trans issues and his statement was genuine. I believe it because he has not apologized for his votes on abortion. He probably believes in his heart that women do not have the right to choose, so he has nothing to apologize for. If he were an opportunist, he would just apologize for that too and keep it moving.)

 

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